GCL Amoeba 396 -- Anticipation (2018-10-23)
My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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The topic of this week's list is anticipation.
My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
Since the Essen game fair (Spiel) will be held this week, it seems like the right time to talk about what we're looking forward to. Of course, there are many children who are looking forward to Christmas at this season of the year, and I'm sure that's a big reason why Spiel happens in October. But there are many other things to look forward to.
What are you looking forward to with anticipation? It could be particular games from Essen, or games from some other source, or a gaming event, or something else that's completely unrelated to games.
My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
7 Hannibal & Hamilcar NEW! -- Andy Latto came over again on Monday last week to play games. The game Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, covering the Second Punic War, is one of Andy's favorite games (maybe his favorite,) and I enjoy it too, though I haven't played it as much since I started playing 18xx at WBC, since the two events run at the same time. Andy is an excellent player who won the event in 2017.
A new edition of the game was released this year. In addition to reprinting the original game, designer Mark Simonitch and publisher PHALANX added an additional scenario for the First Punic War. By the time of the Second Punic War, Rome was dominant at sea, so sea movement in Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage is automatic for the Romans (if they get the card they need) and difficult for the Carthaginians. But at the time the First Punic War, dominance at sea was still an open issue, so the new scenario focuses much more heavily on sea battles.
I played the Romans and Andy (who had played the Romans in his first game) took the Carthaginians. We used the basic game rules (this edition somewhat confusingly has many different rules options) and I gradually built up my navy and pounded the Carthaginians into a difficult situation from a naval standpoint. Andy maintained dominance on Sicily, which was a much bigger focus in the First Punic War, for the entire game, but I was able to invade Africa via Corsica and Sardinia and present him with some problems. Unlike in the original game, naval movement is much more constrained in this scenario; you can just sail from Rome to Carthage, for example; you need to hop along from one island to another.
We ran out of time partway through turn 6 of 7. It looked like I had an advantage, but he still had some play.
I found this game (at least with the rules we were using) to be more static than the base game, and thus less interesting. It's possible that it would be better with the advanced rules. Nevertheless, if you're interested in Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, this edition contains all the components you need to play that game, so the Hamilcar scenario for the First Punic War is just an extra option.
9 Beyond the Rhine (6 all-time) -- My son-in-law and I played a second session last week, finishing the September 5 turn and playing the entire September 9 turn. I have been rolling low on the supply table for the first two turns, so I've gotten only 4 SP in supply (and I've used 3.75 SP, which means I haven't done much. Jeremiah killed the first unit, the 737th Tank Battalion, which was in position to spot for air strikes against an important stack. It's not a big loss for me; I have a lot of independent Tank and Tank Destroyer battalions.
10 India Rails (63+ all-time) -- For some reason Claire and I had a discussion about cities in India, and this led us to play a game of India Rails on Thursday evening. I had a good start, with two Indigo contracts to Ahmadabad and Nagpur, but Claire had better contracts throughout the game and won fairly decisively.
7 Rise of Augustus x3 (24 all-time) -- On Friday we had another session of retiree 18xx set up, but Michael had car problems, so John, Claire, and I played three games of "gamer bingo", which I hadn't played since 2014 (which I played it 21 times.) I never think to ask for this game, and it does have a lot of luck, but it's quick and light and I don't mind playing it when asked. Claire absolutely destroyed us in the first two games, with John coming in ahead of me, but I managed to win the third, with John again coming in second. It's ironic that Michael, the fan of Roman history, missed out on three plays of a Rome-themed game.
8 1867: The Railways of Canada (6 all-time) -- Once Michael arrived we played this game, which began its life as an expansion for 1861: The Railways of the Russian Empire but is now available as a stand-alone game (or as an expansion.) I bought the expansion originally but later upgraded to the stand-alone game because I was tired of sorting the components into and out of my copy of 1861: The Railways of the Russian Empire. Michael and John bid the prices up in the private company auction, with John getting privates 1, 2, and 5 (with the Buffalo and Detroit bonuses) and Michael getting 3 and 4 (with the Montreal and Quebec bonuses.) Michael started companies in Montreal (N) and Quebec, John started a company in Hamilton, and I started companies in Ottawa, Montreal (SW), and Toronto (NE). Thus we divided the board into sections geographically.
Eventually we started more minors: I started one in Peterborough, Michael in Trois Rivieres, and John started two: one in London and another later in Berlin (Kitchener). John made an error by merging all three of his minors into one major; this not only cost him economic value, but also left him with a company that had three 3-trains, was train-tight, and wound up falling back when the first 6-train killed all the 3-trains. He would have been much better off merging only two of them.
It was close between Michael and I. He had more shares, but I had better shares. I managed to get both a 7-train and a 5+5E-train into the second company I started, which ran twice for about $125/share. Michael got a 5-train and a 5+5E-train into his lead company, but the 5+5E-train ran only once, and he earned less money. He had a 2-share advantage over me, 17 to 15, but my better earnings and higher stock value per share just offset that, and I won by $95, or about 1%.
7 18NY (4 all-time) -- Last night we had 4 people interested in an 18xx game, and we agreed to play part of a game of 18NY (Brett couldn't stay long enough to finish, but Michael hadn't played this game and wanted to try it, while Brett had played just once a long time ago and didn't remember much about it.) We played until the first NYC consolidation round, after which I still had a minor earning about $160/OR with almost $300 in treasury and as many shares as Michael and more than John or Brett, so I was probably in the lead, but it was going to depend on how the permanent trains fell out.
I raised my rating back from _6_ to _7_ after this play because I realized that I didn't have any reluctance to play when I was invited to join.
More than an average amount of new-to-me games.
I blame Jeroen for that!
10 Great Western Trail (10 all-time)
Roel came by and requested to play this. I was happy because it’s one of my favorite games and some people who are dear to me just don’t want to play this for different reasons. It was the longest game of GWT ever but it didn’t matter because there was plenty of beers and snacks, and it was good to see him. He lost pretty badly and for the first time I got my train around the corner. Choo-choo!
10 Kingdom Builder (54 all-time)
10 Kingdom Builder: Marshlands NEW!
Natascha requested to play Kingdom Builder again and I wanted to open the third expansion. We only had the Monastery and its bonus action was the ability to place your first house anywhere on the board, not attached to your previous settlements. Neat!
10 Trains (54 all-time)
Jacco and Natascha and me, on the Okayama board for which you need a lot of sea bridges. They left me minding my business on the north side of the board and they shouldn’t have done that...
9 Pandemic: Iberia (16 all-time)
Natascha and me saved the Iberian peninsula once more of four horrible diseases. We played the variant that every disease acts a little different, thus making it a bit harder than the regular play.
I like this version of Pandemic a lot, because it looks nice and has just enough variety in the box to keep playing.
Unfortunately I’ve played Rising Tide only once (with Michael c.s.) but I’ll ask him to bring it over next month.
8 König von Siam NEW!
This game has been gathering dust since I bought it at Spiel 2007 or 2008, and finally it was played with Jacco.
The limitation of having just eight actions to settle eight battles is causing brain freeze and angst. When to pass and keep some cards for later?
The beauty is that there are two majority games going on: one on the board and one between players, because it’s not clear from the beginning on which of the three factions are controlled by the players. Pretty brilliant.
7 Istanbul: The Dice Game (9 all-time)
Fun filler, but it starts to become a bit repetitive.
7 The City x2 (17 all-time)
Unfortunately Natascha didn’t want to join this cool little filler, because of the next game on this list, but Jacco and me played back to back two games. I won the first and he won the second with less points than he had in the first game. RftG-light, with bright artwork by Klemens Franz.
7 The Grizzled NEW!
Jacco put this on the table for Natascha and me and I have to say that I warned him: she doesn’t like wargames, nor war-themed games.
Long story short, we lost and she became moody. Too bad, because I thought it is a little smart and quite interactive game.
5 Raiders of the North Sea NEW!
5 Raiders of the North Sea: Fields of Fame NEW!
5 Raiders of the North Sea: Hall of Heroes NEW!
5 Raiders of the North Sea: Jarl Promo NEW!
5 Raiders of the North Sea: The Mico Promo NEW!
On my request we played this at Jeroen’s weekly gaming night (thanks!).
I had heard many good things about it and was looking forward to play. Maybe my expectations had become too big. These are my findings:
The premise of this game is wonderful. Build up your crew and raid monasteries, fortresses and outposts, gain fame and ...well, earn victory points.
The mechanism of placing a worker, then take a worker is innovative and seems to guarantee quick turns. There are some issues though. First of all, the workers come in three colors and not every action is accessible by all. The white worker is most powerful and the black is most common, so you need white or grey workers to raid the interesting sites, but white workers can’t raid some other places where the black workers can. It all makes sense, until you find out that it’s pretty much beyond your control if you can get the worker of the color you need. That makes it hard to play strategic.
The other downside of this game is the paste. Yes, turns are quick but the game is not. There’s a hard cap on the amount of goods you are allowed to keep, but you need a lot of those to raid. It might take a couple of rounds before you have the stuff you need, and then you can start worrying about getting the properly colored worker.
On top of that there are several cards that allow you to steal from other players. So if you finally have geared up everything for that raid and you have the right worker standing by, someone can come along forces you to take at least another turn collecting goods. Of course you’ll see that you end that turn with the wrong worker.
This aspect seems totally out of place and slows down the game even further. About those cards, there are so many of them that it seems quite lucky to get a good combo. The font on the card is very small and makes it impossible to see what other players have in front of them.
In our game I became frustrated because everything I tried was either delayed or obstructed and in the end I lost my focus and missed several opportunities to score better than I did.
I think that in its core this can be a very good game, but only if played with two, maybe three players and some of the cards are taken out. The art is very colorful and cartoony which gives a light touch, and that’s pretty needed here.
This game was on my wishlist but not anymore, while I’d like to give it another chance as a two-player.
4 Falsche FuFFziger NEW!
Another play at Jeroen’s, with a special guest from Australia (hi Julian!).
Two bidding systems and three currencies, a bit of blind luck and an enormous runaway leader problem. This early Friedemann Friese game clearly has issues.
We played it once, with five and it took almost three hours, while halfway it was obvious who was winning and not long after it became also clear who became second. But we played til the end!
We had fun though and maybe his game might be better than I think because the components didn’t match the included list. To make things worse, we made a huge error by not changing the startplayer in between auctions. That might have broken our play... Nevertheless, other auctioning galore was a pretty unique experience.
Would I play it again? Not likely, I’d rather play another auction game.
So far for my gaming adventures last week.
Essen here I come!
Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.
His marvels of artifice pale in comparison to the developing machinery of his mind.
There was a board game gathering at a local bar that I was able to sneak out for, so I brought some easier to teach games. Aside from Pendragon, every other game were all new players.
10 Neue Heimat (6 all-time)
Halfway through the game the two other players were trying to find copies online. Told them about the recent KS, and they were pumped. Even though I managed to tank them bad, they loved the tight auctions and the total screwage you can inflict on someone. Final scores were Josh: -84, Christine: -15, Me: -3.
8 American Rails (11 all-time)
This was a painful experience. Five player game with four new players. One of them just couldn't grasp that player money and company money were separate entities. Also, it's a hard game to explain strategy because every question I had to answer with "it depends".
Is red the best company because it only has two shares? It depends.
Should I buy both shares of red to monopolize the company? It depends.
How much diversity it needed to win? It depends.
And so on .....
Tyler: $154, Me: $136, Josh: $136, Christine: $115, Jessica: $103.
8 Fresh Fish (4 all-time)
Another game I regret bringing. I find spatial orientation really easy to teach and visualize. Assuming others did as well was erroneous thinking on my part. Same players are American Rails. Except this time two players couldn't grasp the expropriation rule. I finished the game with all my bidding chips and solid locations on the map.
Me: -3, Josh: 4, Christine: 9, Tyler: 15, Jessica: 24
7 Clans (13 all-time)
Three player game with Josh and Christine. Another game they were trying to find after playing. The new edition Fae is terrible. The colours all blend together and the graphics on the board are hard to differentiate. One of the worst reprints I've seen.
Josh and I tied in the end; I couldn't find anything in the rules about tie breakers.
4 Dȗhr: The Lesser Houses NEW!
Some random game to finish the night off. It only plays with six, and I don't understand how it could work without the full compliment. It's an alright game to fill twenty minutes, but I'm not lining up to play this.
N/A Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain NEW!
I need to play this again. One of the more interesting COIN titles. I cruised to an easy victory as the Saxons. The Scotti got hit with an early event that made raiding more difficult. The Dux and Britons never summoned any foederati because they didn't want to populate the map with our factions. That was a mistake as I was able to get a couple settlements on board and just moved slowly up the coast pillaging everything in my path. I like how the Dux and Britons start in a winning position and half to tread water immediately. The next time I want to play either the Dux or Britons. Curious to see how hard it is keep the raiding factions at bay.
Board Game: Wendake
[Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:906]
dog misclick ate my homework half hour composition, so I'll leave this brief version here and maybe get back to edit.
8.5 Stephenson's Rocket (3 all-time)
I like the new implementation. The new method of tracking shares and industries takes up more space, but I think it's worth it. I like the slight twist on industries on the US map.
N/A Horizons NEW!
Juries out, the abrupt end may grow on me now that I know to expect it. Not sure the factions are balanced.
9 Guns & Steel: Renaissance (3 all-time)
Still a 9
N/A Gizmos (3 all-time)
Probably going to be a 9 with another couple plays.
N/A Dice Settlers (3 all-time)
my opinion has gone up with each additional player.
N/A Wendake NEW!
favorite new game of the weekend. Really looking forward to next play. Lots of moving parts.
N/A Gearworks NEW!
DIsappointment, but intriguing enough concept that I may try to fix it with a variant.
4.0 Kingsburg: To Forge a Realm NEW!
4.0 Kingsburg (2 all-time)
First play with the expansion...and the game has not aged well for me. Too much luck of the roll with little opportunity to modify it...and the player abilities do not seem remotely balanced. The player next to me rolled extremely well and claimed the queen so many times we lost count...he ran away with it.
9.0 Great Western Trail (6 all-time)
First time playing with randomized buildings and I did a little bit of everything...but focused on cows as there was just one place to pick them up.
5.0 Timeline: Discoveries x7 (10 all-time)
Caleb and I finished out the deck and then some
8 Flamme Rouge x2 (10 all-time)
Not the typical AT Monday night gaming as we played this one twice and Pompeii once but we were missing one and one wanted to try out Flamme Rouge. We used a cobblestone track the first race which was new to me as I had never used cobblestones before and then the second race was with mountains - base game only. The first race only one cyclist made it to the finish line as we played poorly. The second race several made it past but my sprinter died late after leading much of the race (I took my chances and was one draw off of winning).
7 Carpe Diem NEW!
This one arrived from Germany and I introduced it. Feels like a Feld with a number of ways to score but it does feel different than some of his recent/typical fare although there are still a number of ways to score points. I'm uncertain why an established company like Alea/Ravensburger constantly makes poor graphic design and color choices - a couple of the colors are really hard to differentiate and the art is even more drab than your typical Alea fare - I didn't realize that was possible until this "effort." That being said, I enjoyed my first play and am curious to play more.
7 Dice Settlers NEW!
This one is a bag builder but plays quickly unless people lock up over how to manipulate their dice (which I saw happen a couple times). Appears to be several different ways to winning and the techs will be different each game and influence the game play accordingly. I still don't like the art design but at least it doesn't really affect game play.
7 Texas Showdown (3 all-time)
Still enjoying this and this was another 4 player game. Really want to try 5-6 player game - perhaps at Great Lakes Games in a couple weeks.
7 The Downfall of Pompeii (27 all-time)
I was able to pull this one out late as the lava pull favored me and didn't cause me to lose too many of my guys. Looked bleak at first though and I would have certainly lost the tiebreaker.
Dice Settlers - Decided I wanted to pick this up after all.
Texas Showdown - This arrived from Germany.
Carpe Diem - This also arrived from Germany although the box is a bit squished.
History of the World - Enjoyed the old version so checking out the new one.
5 Victus. El joc de cartes
8 Zombie Dice
6 King of Tokyo
9 The Resistance: Avalon
9 Brass: Lancashire
Hooray, eventually got Brass: Lancashire to the table! None of us had played in two or three years, and as a result we got one key rule wrong - networking. Made the game too easy. Perhaps a good thing, as one of our group really struggled with the game. It took three hours plus explanations!
But I enjoyed it still, even though we played we could connect rails and industry tiles to ANYONE'S network! Looking forward to playing it correctly this weekend. May try to play two player with my wife. It's a very heavy economic game, although the rules are too overwhelming. Just a lot to think about.
Played in a big weekend Subbuteo tournament (Melbourne International Open) with my son and his friend. My son was happy - he made the semi-finals. I suffered a loss with just three seconds to go in the game after a contentious free kick and then imploded in my second game. Won my third, so happy to get away with one win after two months away from the game.
Was quite an intense experience. It's a difficult game to referee as it is so quick, and there was some very controversial moments in the games we played - including the final.
In our nine player The Resistance: Avalon game we had the unfortunate instance of all three baddies sitting next to each other. Got to the fifth vote, but we'd pretty much revealed ourselves by then. I was the Assassin, my daughter was Merlin. Darn her acting skills! Had no idea it was her.
New accquisition: Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansions #2 and #3 – Rome vs the Barbarians; The Roman Civil Wars. Bought second hand from a mate. I was happy as it means I won't have to sticker them up. Unfortunately he hadn't even opened the game! Anyway, as I'm still working my way through the base game scenarios, not expecting to see this hit the table until 2024.
http://www.lautapeliopas.fi/ - the best Finnish board game resource!
It was the school Autumn vacation week last week, which meant lots of games with my son and a longer session with the guys.
9.0 Oregon (127 all-time)
So I played against my son, and after he had counted his gold and I hadn't counted any of mine, I was still in lead or maybe few points behind, and I had a ton of gold... This is very much a game of skill.
8.0 Chicago & NorthWestern (3 all-time)
The odd Winsome train game. We had five players, and saw some actual dividends. I lost by few dollars when someone who wasn't in the lead decided to end the game. Well, not much I could've done in my situation, almost every move I could've made would've benefited the guy ahead of me as much as it would help me. Lovely.
8.0 Duck Dealer (4 all-time)
My son listed this as his favourite game, so of course we had to play this. In the end, he calculated a route where he would create medicine for 30 points, so it was just collect collect collect boom 30 points collect collect collect... I built a similar 60-point route, but only managed to run it once. I still won by ten points. He built a big freighter, which was interesting; it looked like a bad idea at some point, but really wasn't.
We do agree that the two-player game somewhat overstays its welcome, and the next time we play, I'll probably remove two spots from each row of the turn track or something like that, that might improve the game for us a bit.
8.0 Le Havre: The Inland Port (10 all-time)
Long time no see, but I still enjoy this quite a bit.
8.0 Nusfjord (9 all-time)
And this! Really looking forward to the Plaice deck, with the new buildings and proper coins. This is really one of my favourite Rosenbergs.
7.0 1918: Brother Against Brother x3 NEW!
We've been working on the Player's Choice Awards again this year and this is one of the strategy game finalists. I loaned a copy from the designer so we could test this.
The theme is of course really interesting for a Finnish gamer, my home town Tampere is one of the most important locations on the board, a guaranteed focal point of pretty much every game.
The mechanics are fine - this is pretty much an entry level card-driven war game, fairly simple, not many different units and a simple combat resolution system. It works well, and offers an interesting challenge for both sides. I should write a review, since there are text reviews for the game on BGG.
7.0 Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (12 all-time)
A two-player filler was needed in our game club night.
7.0 An Infamous Traffic (4 all-time)
This split opinions, as was expected: ratings in my group go from 9 to 7.5 to "ugh no". I know I won't play again with five players. It's better with four. More of an experience than an interesting game, really.
7.0 Ingenious (42 all-time)
Another quick filler; the guys hadn't played this before, and I'm looking forward to hitting 50 plays.
7.0 Re:Play NEW!
A variant of Celebrities, with plastic shells where you put the cardboard strips you write on. So no ready-made words, this is a helpful DIY solution. Somewhat unnecessary, that is, but the plastic shells are actually pretty nice for random drawing of the clues.
The rules put the pantomime round second and the one-word clues last. We played it that way this time, and it was stupid. Pantomimes need to go last.
6.0 Fast Forward: FEAR x21 NEW!
Took us 21 plays to play through the deck with two players – that's about 40 minutes of play. This is not a brialliant two-player game, but at least we got the idea. Not really sure if I want to try this with more; it's more for the UNO crowd really. I'd recommend this to families and adults looking for fun card game, with no rules reading required.
6.0 Jishaku x5 (18 all-time)
6.0 Mysterium (4 all-time)
We needed something for five players, after lots of back and forth we settled on this, and yeah, it's just as meh as I thought it was.
6.0 Photosynthesis (2 all-time)
Another Player's Choice Awards candidate. Not my favourite, I think the game is a bit too dry.
6.0 Speedy Words x3 (9 all-time)
My daughter loves this. The game is somewhat improved with the "no repeat words" rule. I'd probably want to extend the rule to cover all games within one session to make it even more interesting.
N/A Unpublished Prototype (9 all-time)
My son has been building games.
Bought Terraforming Mars: Prelude on a whim. Seems ok.
Board Game: India Rails
[Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:2314]
[Average Rating:7.05 Unranked]
1x 1822: The Railways of Great Britain
1x India Rails
Still very few plays, but with any luck, I'll be going to GLG next weekend and be playing a few more games.
1822 was interesting. I had only one company for much of the game and that company had a pair of 3Ts on it. I think I might have saved it, but shot myself in the foot and killed my own 3Ts by being stupid. The final score was 12 to 9.2 (me) to 9.1 to 5.8. If I hadn't shot myself, I think I'd have still ended in second, but it would have been close. Ben seems to always win when we play. He's got a strategy of starting two companies simultaneously and early and buying as few shares as possible. So far he's managed to make it work. I think in the future, I need to hold off from starting my company until he starts his. The problem is that the one time I did do that, he held off as well and we both left the stock round (the first one after the first 2 train flipped) with over $200.
India Rails was... an experience. I think I liked it. It was a 5 player game and took about 4 hours. It was the first time any of us had played India Rails (and my first time ever playing a crayon rail game) so I think a second play would immediately drop the time to 3.5 hours. I enjoyed it. It's definitely a card game and the person who gets lucky with card draws will likely win, but there's a fair amount of strategy in setting up your network. Also, with a lot of plays, knowing what tickets are in the deck would probably remove about half the luck of the draw. If it was a 2 - 2.5 hour game I could see it getting a lot more plays but I doubt I'll get it down to that. As a result, I don't think it'll get regular plays, but I like it enough and it's different enough from anything else I have that I think I'll be keeping it.